These days, proving the investment in a customer reference program and/or your reference management technology platform to the C-Suite often comes down to showing measurable, quantitative, trackable results. At the beginning of your program, these metrics start with having the right processes in place and gathering a base of customer reference assets to draw on. But as your program evolves, it is essential to measure other areas to ensure proof-points and build a use case to increase your available budget and maintain executive buy-in. So what are the five metrics your organization should be measuring to prove your customer reference program’s ROI?
Accessibility & Company Awareness – this is a basic measure of your reference management technology usage by others in your organization. Take a baseline of the following measurements and re-visit the data at the end of your recording period. Areas you should be measuring include:
- The number of sales reps that access your reference management technology
- Growth in the rate of reference platform adoption rate
- Frequency of system awareness communications (ex: simple reminders on functionality with screen shots)
Ease of Use – chances are if you aren’t making it easy for your sales & marketing teams to use your reference management technology platform, they aren’t using it, which means you aren’t seeing the return on your investment. You can get a reading of this by surveying or interviewing your top users to get their opinions and figure out ways to make it even easier for them to use and get value out of. Areas to measure include:
- Steps and time it took to find the correct reference asset
- Number of questions the team has about platform features
Relevancy – a customer reference technology platform does you no good if it is not being used for managing reference requests from your internal team. For this metric, some things you should be measuring:
- The number of requests being fulfilled within your platform
- The number of unfulfilled requests due to assets not being found by your team
- The need for reference materials (case studies, testimonials, etc.) to be current and on-point with product messaging and market positioning.
Impact on the Business – this area perhaps has the most quantitative metrics to bring to management, because you can clearly see it from running reports out of your technology platform.
- Number of deals that closed using references during the sales cycle
- Utilization of reference materials in the sales cycle
- Number of on-site reference visits
- Number of closed upsells/cross-sells using references
- Total number of new customers joining the program
- Total number of new customer references by type (industry, geography, solution, etc.)
- Amount of time sales reps saved by using the system
- Relevant alignment of references with the right stage of the sales cycle (assets used earlier in the sales cycle, near the close of the sales cycle, and for special circumstances like an RFP)
- Impact on customer relationships
- Usage of references by type (product segment, industry, etc.)
- Usage of each unmanaged reference asset
Program Goals – besides these basic metrics, you should also be measuring any internally set goals that further prove value and importance of your reference management technology platform. Examples include:
- 20% increase in reference nominations in 6 months
- 25% increase in audio reference assets
- 30% decrease in time it takes to process requests
The data gathered from these metrics can be used to evaluate productivity and efficiency, project future plans, set tangible goals for your team, as well as provide information conveying platform significance. Value is always determined by comparing the end result to the initial baseline measurement, so it is important to be taking note of certain data points within your system on a regular basis (if you haven’t already) to get accurate readings and meaningful analysis.
When it comes to proving the ROI of your customer reference management technology platform to executive management, identifying and capturing the right data, then constantly reporting on and promoting your program’s progress is the key. A disciplined approach to reporting your program’s performance, coupled with presenting the information in meaningful, easy to digest indicators for the executive team means that you not only will strengthen your customer reference program year over year, but also increase your budgets with amplified executive support.